Denver police officers’ shooting of armed fugitive was justified, DA says

Two Denver police officers were justified in their shooting of Vincent Martinez, 36, near East Yale Avenue and South Colorado Boulevard in March, the Denver District Attorney’s Office said Thursday.

On March 2, Sgt. Marco Martinez and Technician Fred Jones, members of the Denver Police Department SWAT team, responded to a call to help the Denver Police Department Fugitive Unit and the Arvada Police Department Fugitive Unit with the arrest of the suspect near a Great Clips store.

Arvada police had been searching for Vincent Martinez, who was wanted on a first-degree murder warrant on suspicion of shooting a DoorDash delivery person in the face following a verbal altercation over a parking dispute on Feb. 27.

Officers in Arvada worked with Denver police after tracking Vincent Martinez down in University Hills. Upon discovering Vincent Martinez and his wife were inside Great Clips, Denver SWAT officers were called to assist in his arrest, the district attorney’s review said.

The SWAT team formed a plan to hide in nearby businesses until Vincent Martinez exited the Great Clips, then use a flashbang grenade to divert his attention and arrest him.

When the suspect exited the hair salon, SWAT officers approached him at gunpoint, telling him to raise his hands. Vincent Martinez ran to the passenger side of the car and SWAT officers threw two flashbangs near him, the district attorney’s review said.

Vincent Martinez was able to get inside the car and lock the door, despite struggling with an officer. The suspect allegedly reached into his glove box and grabbed a gun, which he then pointed toward officers, the review said.

The suspect then may have fired his gun, though District Attorney Beth McCann said that is inconclusive as a shell was never recovered in the vehicle or at the scene.

Sgt. Martinez and Jones then fired their rifles multiple times at the suspect, striking him multiple times. The suspect kept his hand on the gun and did not let go, as officers demanded, according to the review. Later, the officers realized he was unable to move his arms and called for emergency medical responders.

Vincent  Martinez recovered from the gunshots and was arrested and charged with six felonies, including two counts of first-degree assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer, two counts of menacing with a real or simulated weapon, and two counts of possession of a weapon by a previous offender, according to the district attorney’s office.

McCann wrote that the inconclusive results of whether Vincent Martinez shot at officers was irrelevant, given the gun was pointed at police, justifying the shooting either way.

“Both officers saw Mr. Martinez with a gun in his hand pointed in their direction and both officers heard, saw and felt a gun being fired at them,” McCann wrote in the review. “For these reasons I do not believe that a Denver jury would find these officers’ actions unjustified.”

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